Where are we heading?

This post is inspired by two articles that I read recently. The first was “ The AI Revolution: The Road to Superintelligence” by Tim Urban, and the other was a post on Virgin.com titled “ How will the Internet of Things impact lives?”.

In the first article, the author discusses the rapid progress made in the field of Artificial Intelligence. It’s a long read, but well worth taking the time to read through. The author makes the point that we are well on our way to developing Artificial Superintelligence (ASI). And more worryingly, this is a one way street; there is no turning back. Worrying because we do not know what lies in store once we ASI is developed. Suddenly, the “Terminator” movies seem like it could be a reality in the not too distant future.

The second is a commentary on the “Internet of Things”. Following a concise introduction, the author then touches upon the security issues that could potentially arise from the increasing usage of interconnected devices. While this is indeed a serious issue, my biggest concern with the IoT is the role it might play in future human development. If indeed development is the right word. If we are going to be living in a world where we do not have to worry about remembering anything (switching off the lights, locking the door, shopping lists, etc.), then what will be the impact on the human brain?

Combine this with the rise of AI, where humans might not even need to apply their minds to solve logical problems, and the picture is even more worrying. If everything is taken care of by the machines, then what will the human population be busy with? Yes, we will all have lots more free time, but will all of us be busy, or indeed happy, with just leisure pursuits. Not all of us can be artists or sportspersons.

Is all of this inevitable, or can we do something about it? I do not know the answer, but I believe it is extremely important that we spend time discussing and debating it at length before we are at the point of no return, and hope that we are not there already.

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